Contemporary Highlights: Abstraction and Form
Through October 19, 2014
Bold, contemporary works by American artists Paul Feeley, Ellsworth Kelly, Gary Kuehn, and Allan McCollum join the Wadsworth’s new acquisition by Richard Tuttle in the Avery Court side gallery.
Works on view:
Paul Feeley (American, 1910–1966)
Oil on canvas
Gift of Tony Smith, 1967.17
Set within a serene ground of thinly painted blue, Feeley’s twin red figures undulate in this controlled, symmetrical composition. A faint yellow outline, which almost appears to shimmer, contains and enlivens the forms. Named for the Trojan hero of Homer’s epic poem the Iliad, Hector exemplifies the artist’s interest in ancient Greek culture, which he has made apparent by creating these repeated vertical figures whose simplified curvilinear shape recall Cycladic idols.
Ellsworth Kelly (American, born 1923)
Red Orange (Inca), 1959
Oil on canvas
Gift of Susan Morse Hilles, 1992.11
Kelly’s Red Orange (Inca) consists of two tomato red circles squeezed onto a radiant orange vertical rectangle. Although purely abstract, the rounded shapes suggest something vaguely organic and alive. With neither color receding into the background, the combination of the vivid red and orange results in a warm glow. Presented in a symmetrical layout, the colors and forms achieve a harmony and quietness that Kelly seeks in all his paintings.
Gary Kuehn (American, born 1939)
Sun Dance, 1979
Acrylic on canvas over wood
Gift of Mr. John Goodyear, 1981.45
Is this a painting or a sculpture? Kuehn began by cutting and shaping the wood to form the truncated cross and arc that constitute this composition. After creating the sculpture, he covered it with canvas and applied thick, smooth smears of white and yellow paint to the two elements. The white cross shape suggests a rudimentary grid, a common element in the abstract painting of Piet Mondrian, whom Kuehn admires. The yellow arc, suggesting the sun, cuts through the grid as if crossing the horizon. With just a cross and an arc, Kuehn has created a dynamic landscape.
Allan McCollum (American, born 1944)
Ten Surrogate Paintings, 1980–81
Acrylic on wood and museum board
Gift of Hadassah Brooks-Morgan, 2013.8.1
With traditional white mats and various colored frames, McCollum’s series of “Surrogate Paintings” mimic the look of traditional artwork. However, these works present nothing more than empty black fields that are to be understood as stand-ins for painting. Each surrogate is unique in size and, upon close inspection, reveals the hand of the artist in the brushstrokes. And yet, by naming them surrogates and refraining from identifiable imagery, the artist mocks any attempt to find difference in their sameness.
Richard Tuttle (American, born 1941)
Formal Narration, 1973/2013
Gift of the artist, in the name of the Trinity College Class of 1963, 2013.25.1a–r
Look down! Tuttle is recognized for his unorthodox art as much as for his unorthodox presentation of it. Placed on the floor along a wall, Formal Narration straddles the line between sculpture and painting; not one or the other, but both. Nearly every block—cut from common 2x4s—is hand-painted with a simple graphic pattern of two colors, then placed in a specific configuration determined by the artist. Placed next to each other in a long, jagged row, they stretch across the gallery like words in a sentence telling a story (pictured above).